Parents sue Carteret Co. school district over new calendar

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A lawsuit has been filed against a school board in the east after it permanently modified the academic year start date.

The Carteret County Board of Education says schools in the district like Morehead City Elementary will now start two weeks earlier in the future.

Frances Spencer, a parent and plaintiff in the case, says that among the board’s claims of aligning schedules with the community college in the county is not a valid reason.

“The only crowd that can do dual enrollment is juniors and seniors and I would like to know statistically how many juniors and seniors, what are the numbers of students that this is going to help versus the whole student body,” says Spencer.

The lawsuit claims the board voted to start classes on August 13th, despite a state law that sets the Monday closest to August 26th as the earliest start date.

Attorney Mitch Armbruster, representing those who filed the lawsuit, says one of the reasons the law originally passed is because some districts were making their school years longer and longer.

“The ability for students to do things and families to do things in the summer was shrinking. So, they were just having more teacher work days and other things so the calendars were getting really long,” says Armbruster.

In a lengthy statement sent to WITN late Wednesday afternoon – the Carteret County School System raised issues of fairness related to charter and private schools not having to abide by calendar law.

In addition, they say they adopted the new school calendar for two reasons: to align its calendar with the community college for dual enrollment reasons and to “properly balance the instructional calendar and allow students to take exams prior to winter break.”

Spencer says she is shocked by the change and says it doesn’t make sense.

“I don’t understand the reason for it. Because it’s pretty bold to break the law for a very small minority of people that seem to be affected by it and how is it really going to affect them?” says Spencer.

Armbruster says the school board has 30 days to respond.

Last year, Union County changed its school calendar back to comply with state law after the same attorney sued their school board.